Creating an Excellent Learning Environment with Eman Zabi

Terrain was founded out of a frustration with the e-learning industry.

There are a lot of courses out there with great marketing but lack good learning environments, expertise, and instructional design. Eman Zabi set out to change that with Terrain. The idea was to create a platform with high quality vetted courses that are actionable and designed to actually get people to finish them.

A number of solutions were implemented by Terrain to ensure that all of its content is extremely high quality. They reach out to vetted creators, have them create an outline and write a script, and then Terrain has the script peer-reviewed by a diverse panel.

An excellent learning environment is another key feature of Terrain. Distractions are minimal and note taking is at the forefront of the design.

Terrain was built with no-code using the bubble.io platform, Circle for the community, and Zapier to handle all of the integrations. No-code was an excellent choice but came with its own unique challenges, such as Zapier not having a needed integration for example.

They've also taken a unique approach to marketing. Eman built a chrome extension that brings the learning environment from Terrain into Youtube, allowing the learning to stay within that optimal learning context. The extension and word of mouth have both been effective in bringing in new learners.

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Full Transcript

[00:00:00] Joel: So I'm really excited to talk to you. I've had a chance to look at the course platform that you've been building terrain and it's, it's really great. And I like it because it's a subject matter. That's different than the one I work on. I train software developers on our platform and you're primarily focused on entrepreneurs and that kind of spectrum.

Learning complex topics

[00:00:18] Joel: And there's a lot of crossover there probably as well, but I really love what you're doing and some of the philosophies that you're putting forth as a platform before we get started, though, I wanted to ask you. How do you personally approach learning a new complex topic?

[00:00:32] Eman: I dive in head first and try and figure it out, figure it, figure it out as I go. The last, relatively complex topic I've tried to teach myself was probably a bubble and. Bought a template and tried to figure out how everything connected. And then whenever I hit a roadblock, then I'd go and look out, look for a specific resource to solve that roadblock and then get moving again.

The platform's tech stack

[00:00:57] Eman: Oh, so, bubble.io is it's a no-code slash low-code visual programming software. It's what we built terrain on. It's incredibly robust. It's a. Honestly, I think, like, I think I discovered it because I think the university realized it needed, like I needed to learn patience and that was the purpose of bubble in my life.

[00:01:15] It is the most exhausting piece of software I've ever had to use, but it's, it's also, I mean, I haven't really come across any real limited.

[00:01:26] Joel: What made you choose bubble or the kind of the no-code visual programming environment to build your platform? What was the, what was the driver there?

[00:01:34] Eman: So we were looking at traditional dev initially. And I gone as far as putting down a deposit. And then COVID happened and the dev team got furloughed and I lost my deposit. So I was 20 grand out. And. I didn't, I we'd already announced that we were going to be building terrain. I didn't really have an out there.

[00:01:51] So I found bubble after I saw a couple of ads and I tried to build an app on it. It was with the help of a template. It took me about 48 hours. So I thought, you know, this was just as possible. And then it took about four months to build training.

[00:02:08] Joel: So, is it aside from bubble? Cause I don't know if it's all inclusive. I haven't used the tool. Are you using any other, other tools to kind of assemble and like coordinate the platform?

[00:02:17] Eman: We're using circle for the community. Part of it. We're using gathered town for like the metaverse virtual space, part of it. Zapier to link a bunch of things up, send grid for email and active campaign for marketing stuff.

Bespoke code wasn't needed

[00:02:33] Joel: Do you think you're missing out by not having like a fully bespoke code, a full code platform? I guess.

[00:02:39] Eman: No, not at all. I mean, China's incredibly flexible. Like we're able to build front end backend simultaneously and deploy things right away. We've I there's no, no one in my team has a professional Geoff background, but we've been able to. I mean four months, I think is a relatively short period of time to get anything out the door.

[00:03:00] And for people with absolutely no background in any kind of product development, I think it's I think it speaks to how robust is. And we have some pretty complex stuff going on on the backend, no real bumps at all. When it comes to like building it.

[00:03:17] Joel: So I've, I've spent 10 years in millions of dollars building a fully custom platform. And we're actually currently in the process of stepping away from that ideology, because like, what we've run into is like, I'm a, I'm a programmer and I have 20 years of experience developing software. So like it's my first tool.

[00:03:34] Right? Like I, I do, I go to that.

[00:03:36] But like, we're discovering like with our collaborators, cause we're not like a software company, we're an education company. And in that sense we don't need, you know, like we're not building software solutions, like the core of it's really in the, in the courses and the content and

[00:03:49] the design of that material over the kind of the course where though there there's like a baseline user experience that, and I think that there's a lot of. Ideas that you need to achieve as far as user experience goes, but it's cool that when I built it there wasn't the no-code revolution hadn't happened. Hadn't happened yet. So it's really interesting to see like this development of, of a full platform where you're able to, to, to serve people's needs in a robust way without having to, you know, like, like use Docker and rails and

[00:04:20] Eman: Oh, yeah, no, none of that. Yeah. I mean, we have, I think like four lines of JavaScript in the entire site and it's it's yeah.

What's missing from the stack

[00:04:27] Joel: What's a tool that you think people kind of are neglecting, or maybe you wish existed since you've been doing this, this as a, as a no-code project, what's something that would, would kind of bring it all together for you. If that thing exists or

[00:04:39] Eman: I mean it's right now, the only real way to link free like link tools and do integrations is through Zapier. There isn't an integration for Zapier doesn't really exist. You're kind of in a spot where you have to get somebody to create an API for you.

[00:04:59] Um, there is no good solution that I've found that like, lets you create custom API. With no code. I mean, that just isn't there yet. And that would be fantastic to have. So yeah.

[00:05:12] Joel: Have you looked at Integromat?

[00:05:14] Eman: Yeah. I've looked at Integromat, I feel like they're mostly in kind of the same wheelhouse. I know one of the things that we Like we had a lot of challenges with getting Vimeo to integrate with bubbles so that we wouldn't have to like, do things, go back and forth between it and Zapier and integral mind the glitch sometimes.

[00:05:29] And and that's super frustrating when people are trying to use your platform and like watch the courses that you've created. So we ended up having to get a custom API created for that. But if there was just some simple way to integrate tools. That aren't already integrated. Like, like if there was Zapier in a way like that didn't rely on just the preexisting tools in there.

[00:05:52] That would be fantastic. Like I know there are

[00:05:53] Joel: Where you could take action versus having to wait for the platforms to both

[00:05:57] platforms to actually do something. And you're, you're kind of stuck

[00:06:00] middle.

[00:06:01] Eman: And you can do half of that now with Webhooks, but like it's still, it's still not where it needs to be.

[00:06:06] Joel: So when you say you, you created a an API, does that mean like you, you had some kind of wrap the API and then you can use it? Or what does that actually,

[00:06:13] Eman: So we paid somebody to create a plugin for a bubble. And that was I don't know how, what they did on the backend, but they got Vimeo to interact with the couple and the way we needed it to, and then we just added it as a plugin and I worked.

What is Terrain

[00:06:28] Joel: So I had to walk it back a little bit and, and we, we skipped over this. And what did, what is terrain? You built a course platform. It's terrain at school it's for entrepreneurs. What is it in, why does it exist?

[00:06:39] Eman: Okay. It exists because it was born out of a lot of frustration with the industry. On this, on my agency side, describe Smith. We work primarily with course creators, but Building a team and training a team and we were consuming a load of courses and most of them were bad. I think the number was around 20 grand.

[00:06:57] When I looked at how much we'd spent on bad courses alone. And it was super frustrating because I mean, there are good courses out there, but they're not necessarily the most popular ones. It's the ones where the good marketing team behind them that are really just getting all of that attention. And then on the flip side, Despite being somebody who markets courses, I used to hate taking courses.

[00:07:15] The course taking experience itself was just not conducive to learning lots of platforms out there. They are selling internet real estate and creators are just paying to kind of upload the courses. So the end user, there is really the. Crater and that's kind of who all the features were being catered towards the creator rather than the person actually taking the course.

[00:07:36] And terrain kind of came out of all of those frustrations. And the idea was that we created a platform with high quality vetted courses that. Actionable and designed to actually get people to finish them. So our courses are short they're about, I think the longest one we have right now is about two-ish hours.

[00:07:56] They're all done in an afternoon type of courses. Lessons are about 10 minutes long each and every lesson, at least now with the pivot where we're switched to a subscription model, all of the courses we're creating now have. I have something really actionable that you can implement at the end of those 10 minutes, templates, worksheets, all of that tied in.

[00:08:13] And then of course there's the community aspect of it. So we have, we run weekly experiments with the community and they're encouraged to go out, test something in their business and then report back to see if it

[00:08:22] Joel: Um,

[00:08:23] Eman: Yeah, our goal is to kind of turn it into a learning ecosystem rather than just kind of a course platform.

Instructor payment models

[00:08:31] Joel: How do you balance the idea of building a learning platform for your instructor clients? So you have the people that are creating the courses and then the actual learners that are consuming those courses and, and who kind of comes first in that equation.

[00:08:45] Eman: So that was one of 'em. So we actually launched train December, 2020 and we launched the previous iteration of terrain was a commission based model where we would license the courses from creators and then take 25% of sales. And when we were on that model, it was tricky because we have two.

[00:09:04] Balanced crater expectations with learner expectations. We were serving two completely different groups of people. It was really challenging and we also weren't, we weren't getting the results that we were looking for. And also with a very small team, it was just a lot to manage, but since we've pivoted away from that into a subscription model we've kind of eliminated the creator piece of it.

[00:09:23] So now instead of licensing courses, what we're doing is we're paying creators to create courses for us, and then we own the content. So that's just simplified it because we don't have to maintain like a good-looking creator portal. We don't need to maintain those parts of it. And the on-demand courses that you see on our site now are essentially the ones, the creators who were part of a first iteration, and we've kept their courses on because they're great courses, but.

[00:09:47] We are, we aren't taking any more of those on-demand courses anymore.

[00:09:51] Joel: I was going to ask actually, like if you, cause I noticed your subscription and you had kind of a dual model and those, you know, the, the,

[00:09:57] price ranges were, were vast in those and, and,

[00:09:59] you know, you can kind of correlate that to their other products or courses, you know, like they, they kind of maybe exist in some format and in someplace else.

[00:10:06] And I was wondering with the subscription model, if you were paying royalties or how you work that, but it sounds like you're just, you're, you're taking that as an upfront cost compensating and then you, you just run, run it. So you're not having to deal with that complexity is that.

[00:10:20] Eman: Kind of, so the on-demand side of it, people just you can purchase those outside of the subscription. It's just whatever people pay up front for it. We take the 25% and we hand over the rest of the crater. But for course is created within the subscription. All of those are things that we just we've owned outright.

[00:10:34] So there is no commission part of it at all.

[00:10:38] Joel: It's very smart. We started and have a royalty based system to where we have a pool and we have to pay everybody out every month. And what I ended up building was an accounting platform and I never in my life, never in my entire whole life did I think I would be a developer on an accounting platform and I dug my own hole. So I, I live

[00:10:57] Eman: Not the most exciting project.

[00:10:59] Joel: It's worked. It's, I mean, it's interesting on a lot of levels, but it's, you

[00:11:02] know, like it's really, it's a distraction to me at the end of the day and, and it just simplifies it and we've, we've been trying other models with, with kind of other properties. And like at the end of the day, I think that's the simplest for everybody is just to, you know, like not have ongoing monthly transactions kinda that that sort of deal works out

What makes a good course

[00:11:20] Joel: very well. What makes a really good course in your opinion?

[00:11:25] Eman: Oh, well, I mean, I think on like the most basic level, it has to do what it promises to do. Like if I think a lot of courses out there, they. Are not the promise, lots of intangible things. So I think the first thing is having a very tangible objective and then deliver on that objective. And there are courses that kind of make people, make the instructor look really smart and really good at what they do, but they kind of almost alienate the person taking it.

[00:11:59] So those are definitely bad courses. A good course makes the learner feel like. That they've been able to grasp something really quickly. They make them feel excited about what they're learning and then it gives them something that they can implement right away. So, yeah, those are, I mean, those are,

[00:12:15] Joel: they're trying to achieve or they're able to

[00:12:17] accomplish something immediately.

[00:12:18] Eman: yeah.

[00:12:19] 100%.

[00:12:20] Joel: Outside of your platform. What's a really good course that you've taken, because you said you spent $20,000 on bad courses. And, and I'm, I'm a course consumer as well. And I have some opinions and I've, I've made a lot of them are just like, wow, why are you even doing this?

[00:12:31] Like, it doesn't make sense to me. This shouldn't even exist. You're probably harming people,

[00:12:35] but I've taken some that have literally changed my life in, in like a profound way where, you know, it was like just opened up completely new avenue. So what's a, what's a really good course that you've taken in the past.

[00:12:46] Eman: I mean, most of these are going to be in the copywriting kind of space, anything by Joanna Wiebe is

[00:12:50] Joel: Oh Yeah.

[00:12:50] Like other copy hackers

[00:12:52] Eman: Yeah. Copyhackers yeah. I mean, it's nothing else comes close to that. And she takes every box when it comes to great course. Kirsty Fanton, cleated brain camp, just fantastic. Something kind of a little bit outside of the copywriting space, a really good one is Linda Perry's mindset mastery.

[00:13:10] It was a really good one because I went through. All of the imposter syndrome, me phases, like the self doubt. All of that. I started this business very young, had no experience whatsoever. So she helped me on that course in particularly really helped me break through a lot of those blocks.

[00:13:25] Joel: Get your

[00:13:25] Eman: Yeah, my head straight.

[00:13:26] Yeah. Yeah.

[00:13:31] Joel: For me that probably the biggest, the course that I've taken was Amy Hoyt and Alex Hillman's 30 by 500, which is

[00:13:36] kind of a it's a product development course. And I have this like strange fascination with the overlap of instructional design and product development and UX, because I think like instructional design is very slept on. And the idea of how do you build something that people are going to actually. I feel like there's a, you know, like we jumped to marketing and kind of the solution end of the spectrum. But like, if you are building the wrong thing, that makes it really difficult. And I think I've, I've read in some of your literature where that that's one of the big parts of your businesses or the, the consultancy is helping people

[00:14:10] build something that people actually want and then actually delivering it is, um, you know, like that, that, I think it's just critical because we often build the wrong things and I think. They get really well-marketed are jumping into the solution and the marketing over the substance and the outcomes that they're actually achieving for their, their customers and learners is my

[00:14:29] Eman: Yeah. I mean, I think most people can sell anything with a good marketing team behind it. And that's part of why there's so many crappy products out there. Should you be selling? It is the real question is just like, and it's the same in the core space. Really? It's like people create courses because they're told it's a way to scale their business.

[00:14:51] And there are people who have no business creating courses, creating courses at this point. So, yeah.

[00:14:57] Joel: Well, and you know, it's like people have expertise and we want to share that and it is definitely marketable, but your expertise doesn't translate to instructional designer

[00:15:06] or, you know, necessarily a course What support do you provide now for, for course creators? Like when, when you come in and you start, like,

The process of turning ideas into products

[00:15:12] Joel: what's the, what's the process from like, here's an idea to the, the published product.

[00:15:18] Eman: Is this on the terrain side?

[00:15:20] Joel: Yeah. I'm terrain.

[00:15:21] Eman: Yeah, I'm usually, it's kind of the other way around. We reach out to creators when we identify a topic that we're looking to. To have on terrain. And we've usually like vetted that this person is real expert. We've looked at. I mean, there are times where I would go out and purchase another course, if there's just a seat, make sure that they're the real deal.

[00:15:38] And then we set an appointment with them. And the first step is really if they're interested, they would send in an outline for the course. And since our courses are very specific and they're always in the, you know, how to style, especially with the pivot to the subscription. And so. Almost like if this is it's working backwards, if somebody needs to achieve this desired end result, what steps do we need to get, go through and take them through to get them ready for it.

[00:16:05] And that's really what the outline looks like. So there you need to decide the difficulty level, like is this for beginners people with some experience, et cetera the set objective, and once they have that outline done, they will work on putting together. Script and then the script is then reviewed by a panel of our peers.

[00:16:20] So these are people with varied experience, different industries, et cetera, just to make sure that one we're checking for accuracy of information, but also. Clarity. There's so many times where like, things that make sense to the expert may not necessarily make sense to everyone. There's a lot of that curse of knowledge stuff going on.

[00:16:37] So all of those kinds of things that are looked for and when that's ready it's kind of it, the creator can either produce the course themselves, or it's handed over to our team and will handle production. We have a voiceover voiceover artist. We have decks and all of that created, and that's what.

[00:16:53] Joel: What percentage of those do you think are where the subject matter expert the person that you you've approached is the, the person that produces it versus having somebody else do the actual recording the voiceover

[00:17:06] Eman: I would say it's been a 50, 50 split. Mostly because if there are marketers and they have their own business already they opt to do it themselves. But if these are people that were kind of approaching from more traditional industries, like there's one project that we're working on right now, we're speaking to an accountant and it's just, you know, understanding the numbers within your small business.

[00:17:27] And they work at a local accounting firm. So they aren't really interested in getting. Building a brand or building authority, they just have this deep expertise and they were happy to be compensated for their time. So,

[00:17:37] Joel: I paid as a consultant or an

[00:17:38] expert at that point. Right.

[00:17:40] Do you think it matters and, and guys struggle with this? I'm always like, well, do we, you know, like, do we need somebody with it? Cause it does help to have somebody with an audience cause you obviously get some amplification, but at the end of the day, does it, does it really matter?

[00:17:51] Eman: We found that it hasn't, I think. I think that's when it, like one of 'em are early value props was learned from the best, not the most famous and it, as long as they're an

[00:18:02] Joel: I like that.

[00:18:03] Eman: Thank you. Rather premise that one. So yeah, it doesn't really matter to us as long as they're an expert in their.

Creating light bulb moments for learners

[00:18:07] Joel: So you talk about light bulb moments in courses and these, these, these things where we just like, it goes to the off or us, we, we kind of see the light. What can we do as course creators or people helping to design courses to manufacturer encourage, or, you know, otherwise present light bulb moments to learners.

[00:18:27] Eman: I think a big part of that is and I'm really guilty of this. I know some of the early scripts that I wrote I would just. Let's jump to the conclusion without showing my working in house. Arrived at that. I think it's really, really important to kind of walk people through your logic and your thinking so that they can then take that and be able to apply it in different contexts.

[00:18:47] And that's kind of where those moments come from. So showing your working examples also really helpful. And then the third part of it is I think asking questions and it sounds really, really simple, but I think just posing something as a question rather than kind of just straight up, stating it as a fact can Actually get people to engage with it a little bit more and encourages those light bulb moments.

[00:19:12] Joel: We have a. Just a term that we use and it's essential questions where you have, you know, some question that doesn't, it, isn't a yes or no question. And it's something that you can debate or think about, but really like makes you kind of inspect what it is you're doing. And those are, I like them because they usually carry over across topics too.

[00:19:30] So like a truly essential question. Isn't going to be valid for one course. You're going to see this kind of repeated and calmed up, come up over time. And, and when you're, you know, like if, especially when you're talking about something like entrepreneurial. Ventures or

[00:19:43] building a business or, or, you know, like these topics that you're going into, there's a lot of core where it's all going to weave and it's like, oh, these things are all connected.

[00:19:50] It's a graph kind of

[00:19:51] Eman: Yeah, for sure.

Marketing with lighthouse content

[00:19:53] Joel: So I wanted to kind of switch into the idea of marketing and the platform and the individual courses. And, and one of the things that I've, I've heard you mentioned is this idea of, of being being, or creating lighthouse content, like things that you can do outside of, of the courses to like bring people in and attract visitors.

[00:20:11] And I would assume that means both learners and in some cases, even, even the course creators themselves. And I was wondering, what, what is it, what is lighthouse content mean? And. What kind of content are you creating that would serve as a lighthouse?

[00:20:27] Eman: I mean, I think this is a, this is an embarrassing question to answer a little bit because it's called their shoe kind of situation.

[00:20:34] Joel: yeah.

[00:20:34] Eman: Yeah.

[00:20:35] Joel: you're not alone. I don't think you're unique in this.

[00:20:38] Eman: Yeah. It's something we help our clients do on this side. It's something that we. I have struggled to do on the terrain side, just because where it team that kind of tackles a lot of different, like every person is tackling lots of different parts of terrain. So it's, it's always like the marketing side is it's embarrassing for a marketer to admit to this, but it's always just been on the value of taking a back seat.

[00:21:00] But to answer your question, lighthouse, content is anything that helps you kind of stand out and. Establishes that you have a perspective and an opinion, and it's unique. So like one of the challenges, I think that a lot of people have with their marketing is that if you take their brand name off of it and slap somebody else's on it'll sound and like nobody would really be able to tell there, there was no distinctive message.

[00:21:27] There's nothing unique about it and they don't really stand for anything. So I think having that. And then being able to showcase that in different places, like being able to have a distinctive viewpoint when you're on a podcast, being able to have a distinctive viewpoint when you're in a webinar or even just with a blog post or in your emails.

[00:21:45] That's kind of where the idea of a lighthouse content lighthouse content comes from. It stands out. People can read something of yours and know immediately that it's yours.

[00:21:55] Joel: Yeah, it reflects your values and, and,

[00:21:57] kind of, actual opinions and

[00:21:59] not just kind of.

[00:22:01] Eman: The fluffy marketer.

[00:22:02] Joel: Yeah. The H one, this will change your life,

[00:22:04] right? Like, and it doesn't matter what the product is. It's just going to be life-changing trust us, sign up.

[00:22:08] Eman: Yeah. Basically.

Facilitating community with real rewards

[00:22:11] Joel: So one of the things that I've experienced and I assume most other people that are, that are doing chorus platforms and particularly with subscription models is people will come in and they'll sign up. They'll learn what they need. And then. Leave. And you mentioned the like weekly challenges and keeping people engaged and what what's your, you know, like kind of what's your go-to to prevent that churn and keep people in to where they're continue to get value out of the platform beyond what they originally signed up for.

[00:22:36] Eman: So we have an interesting strategy for this. We started implementing it and it's, we aren't having gone all the way yet. It's kind of a Q1 project, but what we're doing is we're trying, we're incentivizing. Community participation by actually paying people to be there. So, what we're doing is almost like a fractional fractional revenue model.

[00:22:55] We take a percentage of what we have earned that month. And we have something on the platform called peak points where people earn these points for completing courses, but also for interacting in our community, showing up for coworking, answering questions, asking helpful questions, things like that. And they earn points for this.

[00:23:12] So then we take all of the points earned in the month. Divide them by that percentage. And then essentially you get a value, you get the value of one peak point for that month, and then people are paid out for whatever they've earned that month. And what we're seeing is we haven't started paying people out yet, but we have started encouraging people to kind of start building those points, start kind of interacting in the community, et cetera.

[00:23:34] And We've seen it. We've seen that go up since we've kind of started introducing that model. We also do have a reward system where we give people NFTs for you know, different things on the platform. Like we did entities for our lifetime members. We have stuff coming out for like most active in the community, those kinds of things.

[00:23:53] And yeah, and the fact that the payouts are in either USD or Bitcoin or Ethereum, that's definitely helped as well. So people feel like. I think anybody who's spending time in the community, they're creating value and it's just, it's important to us that they're compensated for it. And for people who are really active in the community, it's totally possible that they will earn more than the $19 a month that they're paying for their subscription.

[00:24:17] So

[00:24:18] Joel: That's

[00:24:18] really

[00:24:18] Eman: almost a no brainer.

[00:24:20] Joel: It will. And you, and cause we talked earlier about paying royalties and, and now you're actually paying royalties, but you're, you're paying royalties in a way that people wouldn't, it's kind of that. Is it web three vibes? Is that,

[00:24:31] is that what's

[00:24:31] going on.

[00:24:32] Um, and I, I dig it and I think like it's one of the coolest things of that, that kind of community in that, that push is this idea that, that the consumers can also share in the. Profits of the, the overall enterprise and that's, that's pretty new, right? Like, I don't

[00:24:50] think that that's something that we've ever seen before.

Education on the blockchain

[00:24:53] Joel: And, you know, we have airdrops and people get NFTs and like, in terms of other course platforms, like build space has been interesting to watch what they do. And you know, like you complete a course and you get airdropped in an Ft and it's just fun. That part is fun, but then there's the idea of people creating, you know, dowels out of it too, and, and sharing in that and doing all that, which is more complex and, and kind of has that same spirit.

[00:25:13] But I think that's an interesting way. And I'm also, I don't know if you might be interested in this. I think that, you know, people talk about blockchain not being useful, but I feel like education transcripts is one area where. Like blockchain really makes it like a ton of sense to me, it's immutable, it's trusted sources.

[00:25:30] You can verify signatures back and I'm like, wow, that actually is a use case that I'm thinking makes a ton of sense,

[00:25:37] Eman: Oh 100%. Yeah, I agree. Completely. I think education, any kind of like online signing, like anything like hello, sign, DocuSign, those kinds of things. It it's an open.

[00:25:49] Joel: Yeah. Like to me, that's just, it just. Just fits and it takes a lot of friction out of it. And it's like, you don't need a fast database that it removes all those kinds of

[00:25:57] complaints. It's like, okay, well, why wouldn't we do that?

Top of the funnel

[00:26:00] Joel: Have you I know you, you you've talked about this and, and Facebook ads and running ads across the internet.

[00:26:05] Is that something that you participated in with terrain or, or have you you've been able to avoid that.

[00:26:09] Eman: It was a part of our early strategy with like our first iteration when we wanted to when we had all the courses by 50 creators, all of that it also happened just as iOS 14 launched. So, yeah, so Facebook ads were basically just a no go for us at all. And it was a lot harder because at that point we were selling.

[00:26:29] 50 different courses by creators rather than one product, which is our membership. So it just, it didn't work out. We had terrible returns on that. It was just about.

[00:26:38] Joel: Where's the top of your funnel now? Like how, how are people finding terrain?

[00:26:42] Eman: Honestly, it's just been word of mouth. And we do have a, we have a free trial and people have been signing up for that, but right now, what we are in the process of the country, we literally submitted it to the Google Chrome extension store this morning. We have a Chrome extension coming out that lets people who are watching YouTube videos.

[00:27:01] Pull the YouTube video onto a learning interface and take notes and create action items, et cetera. And this came out one because I was, I got really used to our interface and it was great while I'm to be able to take notes and stuff while I was watching YouTube videos. But then we heard that complaint come up over and over again from people who were using train.

[00:27:20] And they're just like, this is a great interface. I wish I could use it for other kinds of content. And. Experimenting now with using that as our top of funnel cause it's free and it gets people into our ecosystem and gets people used to our interface. And then we also are able to promote relevant content based on the kinds of YouTube videos or watching.

[00:27:38] Joel: I take it. That's probably not a no-code project.

[00:27:41] Eman: that wasn't no, that wasn't

[00:27:43] Joel: Is that something that you commissioned

[00:27:44] and had somebody build for you? Or is that something that you built in house?

Creating a learning environment

[00:27:48] Eman: It's something that I taught myself to build after like 35 million YouTube videos. It was, it was definitely a challenge it's taken me. It's I'm sure it would've taken. Yeah, I'm sure it would've taken someone with more knowledge, a couple of hours, but it took me a couple of months, but I'm really proud of it.

[00:28:02] And it's, it's partially on no code. I mean, it, even when it pushes people over to terrain, I mean, that part is obviously on no quick, but like the extension part.

[00:28:10] Joel: So just in that same lines, I've been, I've ever seen frame IO. I'm just talking about tools now, because that I've, that I've liked lately. Have you seen frame.io?

[00:28:17] Eman: it's the, it's the video editing tool. Isn't it?

[00:28:20] Joel: Well, that's more like a video. It's like an interactive video review tool is how I would maybe describe it.

[00:28:26] It's been.

[00:28:26] Eman: Yeah.

[00:28:28] Joel: I spent the last year, like rebuilding our, our video player add this, to like integrate notes and stuff, because one of the things that I think is missing and I hope they're not listening, but I really don't like teachable. And like, every time I have to, like, I'll, I'll watch a course there and it's fine, but it's like one of my least favorite experiences. Because as you mentioned earlier, it's like, okay, well I have 12 videos. I'm going to slap them up there. And then I'm done. I got a course. And like you're left in this situation where I have a video on one screen and I'm

[00:28:54] trying to take notes. I ended up like, actually, literally I have a system where I go through and rip all of the videos and move them into a system. I can actually stand. And, and like a lot of times I actually moved them into. To where I can then take notes and like, it has hot keys and I'm just taking notes. I just want to transcribe, and I want my notes and I want like, I want to be in my learning environment and I want to stay there and I don't want to have to jump around to do all the things I need to do. And I know that's important. And, and what other kind of aspects have you added to your platform that they kind of speak to this idea of, of staying inside of, of what you're learning without him to jump all around windows and all that stuff.

[00:29:28] Eman: we try and keep it as distraction free as possible. So you can. Like it's not a year. The next core lessons and stuff are not immediately visible. You have to like toggle to actually see it. Notes are actually on the side. You don't have to scroll away from the darn video to actually take notes that used to drive me nuts because every single platform has notes under the video.

[00:29:48] That's stupid. Like they didn't think that through searchable transcripts and like transcripts that you jumped to specific points in the video. Again, no brainer stuff that you just don't see on a lot of these platforms. One thing that I really like that we have is the ability to create action items from within that learning view.

[00:30:03] So you can and we've been working on the integration for this. It's coming, but you will be able to integrate it with your sauna, your Trello, whatever. So as soon as you create an action item on terrain, it gets added to your project management

[00:30:15] Joel: Ah, cool.

[00:30:16] Eman: So, yeah, so those are kind of little things that we have in place, but.

Work-life balance (or lack-of)

[00:30:22] Joel: Have you like balanced your cause you have scribes Smith. So you have an agency and you're building a learning platform. And has that balance shifted over time or do you split your time or how does that work for you?

[00:30:35] Eman: And this is this question assumes that I have balance in a life outside of work.

[00:30:39] Joel: I don't. So I understand.

[00:30:43] Eman: Oh man.

[00:30:43] Joel: From work? I work. What are you

[00:30:45] Eman: And work exactly. I worked at more. No I it's. I think for the last two years, especially since. Ever since he had the idea for terrain it's, the balance has definitely shifted. I'm very fortunate to describe Smith is mostly in a place where it, it runs like clockwork. No real trouble.

[00:30:59] There have a phenomenal team. They handled most of it. So w if it wasn't for terrain, I think I would have phenomenal work-life balance. I would have more life than work, which would be great. But

[00:31:10] Joel: You wouldn't have spent the last two months building a Chrome extension.

[00:31:13] Eman: This is true. This is true. I mean, I probably would've still done it because there was so much fun, but yeah,

[00:31:18] Joel: a fun time.

[00:31:18] Eman: yeah,

[00:31:19] Joel: I love it. I, I, I got, I mean, I have hobbies and they're all leisure.

[00:31:23] That's where my Karen Ford is leisure work. And not, you know, like I actually, like, I think people should find whatever balance they need and, you know, whatever, whatever is, is good for you. And like, I function that way and I just like, kind of enjoy it.

[00:31:34] It, it is, I don't know if it's relaxing and it's just like, it's what I, what I do and what

[00:31:38] Eman: It's stimulating. Yeah.

The biggest goal for Terrain

[00:31:40] Joel: it and, you know, like there's, everybody should, should achieve whatever balance they can for themselves, I guess. My last question is what's your, your most audacious goal for terrain?

[00:31:50] Eman: Oh man. I haven't said this out loud to anyone yet. So. I started my business while I was based in Qatar. And that came with its own set of challenges, just like building outside of north America, lack of legitimacy, all of those kinds of things. And I know so many people in other parts of the world who are struggling to kind of get their businesses off the ground.

[00:32:08] My goal, they big ridiculous goal for terrain is to someday get to a point where we have helped a thousand people from outside of north America, build businesses that are getting them at least 50 grand a year. Yeah,

[00:32:21] that would be the dream. Yeah.

[00:32:24] Joel: I think that's great. And I love that and I know that that speaks to your values and that, that part of what terrain does now is give back to entrepreneurs around the world. So you're not that isn't a future goal you're actively working on this goal, correct?

[00:32:35] Eman: Yeah, we are. We are. We're nowhere near it, but someday.

[00:32:39] Joel: No, and, and, but just putting it up there and setting it as a, as a milestone, I think you'll get there, like, just from everything I've seen and talking to you and listening to you and interacting with your platform and seeing kind of the quality work that you produce and the values that you're putting out there. I think you're going to get there, like that's, that's how I feel about it. If I was making a prediction, so.

[00:32:57] Eman: Thank you. That means that means so much. Thank you.

[00:33:00] Joel: Well, it was really fantastic to talk to you. I feel like we could talk for a long time cause we have a lot of crossover in our interests and what we do and what we like to do for leisure work. But, but for now I'm going to call it a day and I really appreciate you taking the time to chat with me.

[00:33:14] Eman: Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. This was great.

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